Ranking the general managers of Tampa Bay sports

by Gary Shelton on September 13, 2018 · 4 comments

in general, Tampa Bay Bucs, Tampa Bay Lightning, Tampa Bay Rays

BriseBois is charged with keeping the winning alive./Tampa Bay Lightning/Scott Audette)

Thursday, 3 a.m.

He is in charge of today. And he is in charge of tomorrow.

He has to win. Today and tomorrow.

He has to make the chemistry work. He has to bring in the right free agents, and make the right trades, and promote the right players like an orchestra leader. He has to work with his coaches. He has to work with his minor leagues. He has to work with the owner, because he signs the checks.

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He sets the tone for the organization. He has to make moves when players are unhappy, like Marty St. Louis, like Keyshawn Johnson. He has to balance the budget, even when it means moving players. He has to find the guy to blame, or he will be the guy to blame.

Want to know how good Yzerman was? Remember what the franchise was like before him. There was no creativity. There was no order. There was no attention paid to the minor leagues. James Lawton was a traffic cop standing in the interstate with the cars flying past.

BriseBois studied under Yzerman./Tampa Bay Lightning/Scott Audette)

Throughout the history of Tampa Bay, we have had great general managers such as Steve Yzerman and Andrew Friedman and Rich McKay. We have had awful general managers, like Bruce Allen and Chuck LaMar and Brian Lawton. Some of them figured out the path to winning; some got lost along the way.

And now, we have to figure out where Julien BriseBois fits in.

Look, no one wants to doubt BriseBois. We all hope he can get the Lightning over the hump. Certainly, he has the structure to succeed: His owner spends money, and there are stars on the ice, and there is structure in the organization, and his head coach is top flight.

At this point, however, the Lightning needs a push. Finishing in the top four is nice, but it gets old if that's the ceiling. Being pretty good satisfies fans for only so long.

But BriseBois comes in with stars under contract. There is no task of a guy trying to get away. There will be tough decisions ahead, but not for a while. BriseBois can work with this team; he can add a piece here or there, and he can find a little more muscle, but it isn't as if he's taking over the Coyotes.

Keep this in mind: However successful, a man doesn't work in a vacuum. Whenever Yzerman made a move, BriseBois was there, being a sounding board, offering an opinion, making sure that Yzerman's logic was right. It doesn't guarantee anything, but if BriseBois was going to be a general manager, he learned from the best.

Now, it's time for him to fly.

A brief glimpse, then, of what BriseBois is competing against.

Ranking the General Mangers

1. Rich McKay, Bucs ... Won a Super Bowl. Spearheaded a Stadium construction. Drafted Brooks and Sapp. Hired Dungy. Just couldn't work with Jon Gruden.

2. Steve Yzerman, Lightning ... Went to four conference championships...Helped build the Lightning into one of the best NHL franchises.

3. Andrew Friedman, Rays...Reached the post-season four times in six seasons before leaving for the Dodgers.

4. Jay Feaster, Lightning...Refused to choose between coach John Tortorella and star Vinny Lecavailier. Didn't make a lot of moves, but his late-season trade for Daryl Sydor helped the Bolts win a Cup.

5. Chaim Bloom/Rick Neander, Rays...Risers with the Rays after trading away most of the roster and improving the team.

6. Jason Licht, Bucs...Has steadily improved the talent on his team. Still has his misses, however.

7. Phil Esposito, Lightning...The Bolts' original general manager would have been better if ownership was better in his day...Father of the franchise.

8. Matt Silverman, Rays...Had a lot of building to do when he took over for Friedman.

9. Rick Dudley, Lightning...Trade-happy general manager deserves some early credit for the Stanley Cup success.

10. Mark Dominik Bucs...Josh Freeman was his downfall, and weak coaches didn't help.

11. Chuck LaMar, Rays...Said his organization did everything but win. That's a big thing.

12. Bruce Allen, Bucs...Gruden's hand-picked g.m. couldn't bring in as many stars as the team was losing.

13. Jacques Demers, Lightning ... A likable sort, but he had no structure from ownership.

14. Brian Lawton, Lightning... Never made the playoffs. A part of the miserable Oren Koules-Len Barrie regime.

15. Phil Krueger, Bucs... An organizational doofus who made little impact in his time here.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Richard September 19, 2018 at 5:09 pm

I hope the Bolts win a cup before the Yzerman Red Wings do.

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Gary Shelton September 19, 2018 at 9:00 pm

There’s a betting proposition for you. Hah.

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BILL MYERS September 13, 2018 at 8:56 am

There have been some player coaches I know. Have there been many GM coaches ? Do you think it is a good idea to try and do both jobs? A guy like Gruden or Belichick might want to do it just for complete control.

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Gary Shelton September 13, 2018 at 3:01 pm

Belichick did it. Shula and Lombardi had all the power, so they might as well have carried the title. Bill Parcells famous line is “if I have to cook dinner, I want to be the guy who buys the groceries.”

Gruden would be horrible at it. He doesn’t care about the fourth-rated tight end in the draft. He wants to be the guy to choose, but he needs a flunky to handle day to day.

I’ll be honest. I think they’re two different jobs anymore between free agency and the draft and contracts. Some coaches have the final say, and some g.m.s do. It’s called “being in charge of the 53 (man roster).”

Ideally, the g.m. worries about the big picture, and the coach tries to win on Sunday. Pittsburgh comes to mind as a place where it works.

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